On the weekend that we lost a magnificent musical voice, it was reassuring, nay, reaffirming to see Irma Thomas performing in London last night for the first time (she said) in over twenty years. Her first single ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess with My Man’ was released in 1960, and her voice was as magnificent last night over ninety minutes as I am sure it was in her earlier career.  

Delighted to be on stage, with a wicked sense of humour and more than happy to take requests, however obscure, she sang what she “could remember” and she could remember a lot! On occasion she just sang the vocal as the band didn’t even know the song, something a few artist would not go near attempting.


Dubbed the ‘Soul Queen of New Orleans’ her heart obviously belongs to that city and the most stunning moment of the night came with a vocal and keyboard cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Shelter from the Rain’, which was so intense your mind drifted to not only New Orleans but also the other  tragic events of this weekend.


‘Time is on My Side’ and countless greats were sung and lapped up by an adoring audience. A special show.


That same audience had been warmed up quite nicely by New Orleans’ new kids on the block, The Soul Rebels Brass Band who have had some high octane press Stateside recently.


The Barbican surroundings may really have been a bit formal for the band but give them their dues, they did get an ‘early doors’ audience up onto their feet by the end of the set.


The sound they make is a collision of genres based around the traditions of a New Orleans brass band. A smaller venue and they should blow the roof off!


The concert was part of the Barbican’s Blaze series in which we saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings a few weeks back. The series should be given a major pat on the back for a job well done in bringing such an eclectic series of concerts together in LondonTown.


Prior to the gig, a band called Feufollet were tearing up the free stage with a mix of Americana Cajun-induced Rock n’ Roll. They are at WOMAD and Cambridge this weekend - be sure to catch them!




Irma Thomas  


Soul Rebels Brass Band